Food Law News - EU - 1999

2 June 1999: CONTAMINANTS - Commission decision on Dioxin contaminated poultry and poultry products

Commission Press Release (IP/99/366 ), 2 June 1999

Commission decision on Dioxin contaminated poultry and poultry products.

Following the favourable opinion of the Standing Veterinary Committee the Commission will today decide on the application of the safeguard clause to ensure that all contaminated or potentially contaminated products are excluded from the market. The decision obliges member states to ensure the withdrawal and destruction of any poultry or egg products or food products containing these products from the market if these products may contain poultry related products which have come from the suspect farms. For trade purposes the Belgian authorities will have to provide a certificate to the effect that the exported product does not contain material originating from the restricted farms. In the case of food products the restriction applies if the product contains more than 2% egg product. The Belgian authorities are obliged to provide all information necessary to facilitate thetracing of exported products which must then be destroyed. Dioxin monitoring Plans must be put in place in Belgium and those member states who have imported contaminated products.

The Commission services were only informed by the Belgian authorities on the afternoon of the 27th May of a heavy contamination of compound feedingstuffs with dioxin. The Commission considers this to be most regrettable given that this information seems to have been available to the Belgian authorities at a much earlier date.

At the earliest opportunity possible the Commission had a discussion on the issue in the Standing Committee on feedingstuffs and a vote on the safeguard clause in the Standing Veterinary Committee. In summary the decision under the safeguard clause obliges member states' authorities to ensure that all potentially dioxin contaminated product be it food or feedingstuff is traced, removed from the market and destroyed.

Belgium has already taken important measures in this direction including a ban on the sale of any poultry products from the suspect farms. The Commission's decision relates to products or derived products from potentially infected farms which were produced between the 15 January 1999 and June 1st 1999.

The Belgian authorities must continue to trace all products covered by this decision and notify other member states and third countries who have imported them.

Member states who have imported contaminated feedingstuffs should apply the same restrictions i.e. trace the feedingstuffs and food products from these farms and destroy them.

Finally member states should apply the same rules for non poultry products should other livestock have been fed the contaminated feed. A number of member states have already imposed restrictions on pig producing farms on a precautionary basis while the situation is being assessed. The Commission will keep the situation under review and will take any measures which it considers necessary to reinforce the protection of human health.

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